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The original item was published from 7/22/2021 3:23:28 PM to 9/23/2021 12:00:00 AM.

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Thermal Station

Posted on: July 22, 2021

[ARCHIVED] Homicide



Sheriff Chad Bianco

Press Release:Homicide
Station Area:Thermal
Written Date:July 22, 2021Time:2:30 PM
Incident Date:July 21, 2021Time:7:43 AM
Incident Location:82675 Highway 111, Indio (John Benoit Detention Center)
Reporting Officer:Sergeant Ben Ramirez
File Number(s):IC212020002

Luke Hanchette


On July 21, 2021, at about 7:43 a.m., during a routine safety check of the inmates at the John Benoit Detention Center (JBDC), staff found an unresponsive inmate inside a housing unit. Additional staff responded, and found the inmate had significant traumatic injuries. Emergency lifesaving measures were performed and when local fire and paramedics arrived they continued medical aid. The inmate succumbed to his injuries, and the housing area was secured as a crime scene.

Correctional Investigations Bureau and the Central Homicide Unit responded to begin the investigation. The victim’s cellmate, Luke Hanchette (42 years of Hemet), was identified as the suspect in this case. Hanchette was arrested for murder and remains housed at JBDC.

The victim was identified as John Hemmer, 48 years of South Dakota. The investigation is currently on-going and no further information will be released at this time. If anyone has information regarding this investigation, they are encouraged to call Investigator Button with the Central Homicide Unit at 951-955-2777.

Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff's Homicide Tipline online form.

For media inquiries regarding this incident please contact the Media Information Bureau.

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